You already know the importance of audience segmentation for driving revenue. And it’s likely that you have at least a general idea of what audience personas are. But, if you really want to make the most of those personas, the general rules don’t always apply. BtoB publishing is its own animal and there are a few key points to remember when establishing and applying audience personas to your content marketing approach.
You are often dealing with teams, not just individuals. There is a good chance that if you are offering products and services specific to an industry and focused on improving the audience’s professional productivity or experience, there is actually a whole team that can benefit from your efforts. So, while individual personas are a good place to start, it’s also important to develop profiles that incorporate that individual’s role in a team and also gain an understanding of what drives and influences the team as a whole.
Watch your language. No, we aren’t talking about four-letter words (although appropriate language should always be a priority). We are talking about “lingo”. We are talking about being too esoteric. It’s easy, these days, to assume that everyone knows what you are talking about, especially because you can google just about everything. But, think about it in the context of a team: the reader most entrenched in the technical aspects of the industry might have no problem connecting with and translating your content, but in the context of that reader’s team, they might not be the one making the purchasing decisions. You can also turn away people who are just breaking in. Think of it this way: you probably won’t alienate insiders for using more accessible language, but you will alienate newer folks or team members in different roles for being too “techy” or slick with lingo.
Embrace Relevant Metrics. We talk a lot about relevancy. Obviously, you want to deliver relevant, contextual content to your readers. Naturally, you need to have a set of audience personas that drive that relevancy. But, don’t get bogged down in creating complex, highly detailed personas. Instead, focus on gathering data that is truly relevant to your content. Yes, this sounds a little like the chicken or the egg scenario—but the point is, who cares if several members of your audience love Shih Tzu puppies—unless of course, your publication is about dog grooming? Not all data is going to be useful to you. Determine what is, and use it to drive your personas. Also, remember key metrics that help publishers segment their audiences:
- Content Preferences
- Site Behavior
Create Conversations. This is another part of the data puzzle. In BtoB, if you want to collect relevant data, you need to do some talking. You can certainly engage people by creating forums on your website or via social media, but a good old-fashioned conversation can’t hurt either. In fact, targeted conversations are really necessary for understanding the team persona. Keep these questions in mind, when approaching conversations:
What drives innovation for the company?
What is their perceived value for the innovations they are pursuing?
Who are the key decision-makers and/or influencers on the team?
What is their corporate context and industry context?
What are the changes forecasted at a company and industry level?
What problems do the team face on a day-to-day level?
What are the perceived risks of changes or innovations in front of them?
If you start with these four tips, you are bound to develop a set of personas that will you develop appropriate segmentation and leverage your data to its greatest potential—driving engagement and revenue.